NASA Awards Launch Services Contract to SpaceX

U.S. Air Force, SpaceX Strike Deal for Cape Canaveral Launches
A SpaceX Falcon 1 rocket launches on the firm's second test flight on March 20, 2007. (Image credit: SpaceX.)

WASHINGTON-- NASA has awarded Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, an indefinitedelivery/indefinite quantity contract for launch services on the company'sFalcon 1 and planned Falcon 9 launch vehicles, the space agency announcedTuesday.

Thecontract identifies SpaceX ofHawthorne, Calif., as a potential provider of launches to be orderedthrough June 30, 2010, and which would occur by Dec. 31, 2012. The contractvalue ranges from $20,000 to $1 billion, depending on the number of missionsawarded, the press release said.

Thecontract covers launches of payloads weighing 250 kilograms or more into acircular orbit at 200 kilometers in altitude and an orbital inclination of 28.5degrees. Payloads would be launched to support NASA's Science, Space Operationsand Exploration Systems directorates.

SpaceXis the latest company to be awarded this type of contract from NASA. Theoriginal request for proposals was issued in 1999, and twice per year existingand emerging domestic launch service providers can submit proposals if theirvehicles meet the minimum NASA requirements, the space agency said.

SpaceX'sFalcon1 small launcher has failed in two launches to date and is expected to makea third attempt this year. The larger Falcon 9, still under development, wouldlaunch payloads including SpaceX's planned Dragon space station cargo-deliverycapsule. SpaceX is one of two companies developing space station logisticssystems under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program. 


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Becky Ianotta is a former SpaceNews reporter covering space industry and policy news from 2008 to 2009. Becky earned a bachelor's degree in English/Journalism from the University of Miami. She spent five years as an editor with the Key West Citizen in Florida before joining the SpaceNews team. She later wrote for Air Force Times before taking her current position as communication director for Mother's Against Drunk Driving.